Beyond Self to Society and Sustainability: Lesson in Practical Spirituality from Sikhism
Across the definitions of spirituality, the fulcrum and the focus have largely been on realizing meaning and purpose of life for upliftment and enrichment of the individual. But, the spiritual message that we get from Sikhism, a monotheistic religion established in Northwest India at the beginning of the sixteenth century AD, goes much beyond the focus on the spiritual elevation of an individual and lays an equally strong emphasis on the regeneration of the society.
Sikh spirituality ascribes high importance to a socially positive role of an enlightened spiritual soul. This chapter describes how the essence of Sikhism goes beyond self toward overall good of the society and attainment of sustainability. The chapter portrays how the Sikh spirituality is operationalized through three key principles: Naam Japo (Divine-Consciousness), Kirat Karo (Honest and Integral Living; life of action in the service of humanity), and Vand Chhako (Giving and sharing with others). Thus, the model of Sikhism integrates the self, society, and sustainability through divine consciousness.
Through the Sikh religion, the gurus made a serious endeavor to abolish the centuries-old caste and custom, old rituals, beliefs, and superstitions that had come to dominate the religious domain and also created hierarchical structure within the society. Therefore, Sikh philosophy is very much similar to the concepts of practical spirituality as it is not fixated on the acceptance of specific religious rituals but more aligned with conscious, integral, and purposeful living that is deeply immersed in sincere gratitude with its creator.
The Sikh gurus brought together the temporal and the spiritual authority to demonstrate the possibility of achieving harmony and balance between materialist concepts and spiritual aspects of the human soul, the message that is currently being advocated under the philosophy of practical spirituality.
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